Unions defer 3-day strike as banks raise pay hike offer to 15% from 12.5%

With improving their salary-hike offer to 15 per cent from the earlier 12.5 per cent, the employees’ and officers’ have deferred their three-day strike scheduled this month. The demand for a five-day work week will, however, be discussed again. This was decided at a meeting held between the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and the on Saturday.

Other demands such as the encashment of five days of privilege leave a year will be discussed further. The meeting also decided to expedite discussions on the improvement in family pension, which has been recommended to the government.

Banking had given a call for a three-day strike from March 11.

“In today’s talks with the IBA, in addition to a 15 per cent increase in salaries, some more forward movement is there on our other demands. In view of this positive development, our agitational action and three days’ strike is deferred,” the United Forum Bank Unions (UFBU) said.

C H Venkatachalam, general secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), said the IBA agreed that some improvement in the pension would be worked out for earlier settlement periods by calculating the cost.

The IBA team was led by Rajkiran Rai G, chairman of the negotiating committee. The previous wage settlement expired in October 2017, and a deal was reached with the IBA that a new pact would be effective from November 2017.

Banking industry sources said there was improvement on three demands in Saturday’s wage talks. First, in addition to the 15 per cent offer, agreed to the encashment of five days of privilege leave per year. The unions have assured they would consider the offer.

Second, and unions will consider the demand (through a joint panel) for loading more than 2 per cent on the past basic wage plus dearness. Banks have made it clear this loading can be considered only within 15 per cent of the overall hike offered.

Finally, the joint committee will also look at the demand for a five-day work week. While there may be merit in such demand, the present ecosystem – economic slump and customer issues – is not conducive to consider this idea. It can be taken up in the future when system stabilises, bankers aware of talks said.

Banks are looking at signing a wage agreement this month.

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